THE PATH Part 21

“If I am to die, I might as well get it over with.”

Pa’haana had spoken those words less than an hour past. And now he would fulfill them.

Pa’haana looked into the eyes of Maker-of-Ghosts and saw death. His death, and Tobazhi’s. The brute’s eyes flared red in the light of the torches. The color of fresh blood. It growled, and the sound filled the cavern. The stone walls trembled.

“Get out of here, Tobazhi!” Pa’haana shouted over his shoulder. He stood with his spear lowered, trying to keep his knees from giving way beneath him, trying not to be sick.

“Too late to run away now!” the little man said behind him. “We must do what we came here to do!”

That had been less than an hour earlier, their last chance to turn back. But Pa’haana had made his decision.

Then they’d found the narrow cave. Tobazhi made a torch from a pine branch and some cloth soaked in fat. They marched into the monster’s lair, the air thick with the reek of blood and rancid meat and the overwhelming stench of the brute.

“Get it over with!” Pa’haana shouted.

With a roar that could shatter bone, Maker-of-Ghosts charged.

Pa’haana held to the shaft of his spear, his hands so wet from sweat that he feared he might lose his grip. He twisted them around it. His entire body jolted as the flint tip made contact. The force of the impact drove him backward, his feet sliding in the dry dirt of the cave floor. He collided with Tobazhi behind him, who dropped the torch. It bounced off Pa’haana’s arm. He did not even feel it burn him.

Time slowed. Maker-of-Ghosts drove Pa’haana before him, out of the darkness of the cave and into the cool light of the deep woods. The cave had not been high enough for Maker-of-Ghosts to stand, so when it had charged on all fours, the head of the spear buried itself in its shoulder. Now Maker-of-Ghosts reared up. Its paw snapped the shaft of Pa’haana’s spear. Pa’haana staggered back, tripped and fell.

Maker-of-Ghosts stood twice as tall as a man. None of his kin had ever achieved such size, nor ever would again. In times to come, far distant, men of learning would unearth the bones of Maker-of-Ghosts (they would give it a new name, of course. Arctus simus, the Giant Short-Faced Bear), and cringe as they contemplated the beast, its death-dealing power. But Pa’haana faced no fossil. He stared up at the monster.

Categorized as darkness

By The Evil Cheezman

Purveyor of sacred truths and purloined letters; literary acrobat; spiritual godson of Edgar Allan Poe, P.T. Barnum, and Ed Wood; WAYNE MILLER is the head architect of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, serving up the finest in entertainment and edification for the stage, the page, and the twain screens, silver and computer. He is the axe-murderer who once met Andy Griffith.

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